Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters is a watchable action fantasy, even if it veers on the trashy side. The film seems to be aiming for two different things and does not sit comfortably in either aspect as a result.
Having been lured to a candy-filled house as children, Hansel and Gretal manage to kill the witch who has imprisoned them. As adults, the brother and sister become bounty hunters who track down and kill witches. The pair are brought to a small village to find the culprit who has been kidnapping children…
Writer and director Tommy Wirkola attempts to inject new life into the Hansel and Gretal fairy tale. He does this by making them witch hunters and action stars. It is not dissimilar to last year’s Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. The children of the fairy tale have grown up and donned powerful weapons which they sling over their leather-clad shoulders.
The narrative of Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters is not exactly illuminating, but the pacing is good. The film features several archetypes of the fantasy genre, including the unrelenting villain, the ambiguous helper and the devoted love interest. The protagonists lack depth, but then the focus is on the action.
Wirkola’s film is strange in that it is period set, yet Hansel and Gretal appear overtly modern. They speak with American accents (unlike most of the cast who boast a Germanic lilt) and use conspicuously profane language. The accents are a little distracting and feed into the idea that the film is not certain of what it is aiming for. In its updating of a fairy tale it allows comparisons to Red Riding Hood, yet the language and violence suggest it is aimed at an older audience. However, it seems that the film would have had more appeal to a less mature audience.
The film features some very visceral deaths. Despite an abundance of gore, the CGI effects mean it never appears too authentic. The use of 3D is fine; it is not too distracting or gimmicky. The music is sometimes too abrupt, taking viewers out of certain scenes. The performances are adequate, with Jeremy Renner seeming to not take things too seriously. There is some humour, whilst the dialogue can be hokey.
Coming in at 88 minutes, Hansel and Gretal: Witch Hunters may not quite be successful, but never feels like a chore.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a passably enjoyable action fantasy romp. Not quite an fun as viewers may hope, the film is entertaining nevertheless.
As a young boy in the nineteenth century, Abraham Lincoln watches his mother die. Vowing to avenge her death as an adult, Lincoln is unaware of what he is up against. As Abraham Lincoln rises in the political sphere, by night he hunts vampires…
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter features an enticing premise. Painting one of the most famous American presidents as a Van Helsing-type sounds amusing and an interesting idea for a film. It is a shame that Timur Bekmambetov’s movie does not quite capitalise on the ridiculousness of the premise. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter should have been all out outlandish.
Instead, the film maintains a more serious tone. Abraham Lincoln moonlighting as a vampire hunter is played straight, rather than for laughs. Viewers are required to suspend their disbelief; unsurprising for a film with a strong fantasy vein. Nevertheless, some of the plotting is a bit problematic, including the motivations of some of the characters. The ambiguity over the intentions of one of Lincoln’s sidekicks, however, is a nice touch.
Bekmambetov has given Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter a highly stylised look. This is only partially successful. The CGI-heavy appearance gives the film a synthetic air. The action sequences owe a lot to the films of Zack Snyder, with the speeding up and slowing down of action.
Benjamin Walker is well cast as the young Abraham Lincoln. Anthony Mackie plays Lincoln’s companion Will with well-suited selflessness. Dominic Cooper is good as Henry Sturgess, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead makes a believable Mary Todd.
Although there are some issues around motivations and the action sequences do not quite engross the way they should, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is entertaining throughout. Those seeking something totally outlandish may be better off looking elsewhere.
This week is all about the The Expendables 2. Well, not really but the trailer was released this week. Gangster Squad, Brave and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter also feature in this round-up.
The Expendables 2
This film looks amazing. I was one of the people who quite liked the The Expendables, so I am looking forward to this sequel. The Expendables 2 features more of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Chris Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris. Let’s hope the film matches this stellar action cast. The Expedendables 2 is out on 17th August 2012.
Gangster Squad is the new film from director Ruben Fleischer. Starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin and Ryan Gosling, the film tells the story of the LAPD’s battle with gangsters in the late 1949. The film is being distributed by Warner Bros, who were famed for the gangster movies in the 1930s. Hopefully Gangster Squad will bring back some of that magic. The film is released on 9th November 2012 in the UK.
Here is an amusing little video to promote Disney’s Brave. The Scottish theme is really being played up in the film’s publicity. Brave will be out in the UK on 17th August 2012, although cinemagoers in Scotland will be able to see the film two weeks before this. Brave will premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival in June, so expect to hear more about the film around that time.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Above is a short featurette about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. The film’s UK release date has been brought forward; the film will now open on 20th June 2012, bringing it in line with the US release. Given the premise of the film, it should be a lot of fun to watch Lincoln fight vampires in 3D.
I have four trailers from the past week to share. As well as the full Prometheus trailer which debuted last Sunday, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Lucky One and Casa di mi Padre are all due for release in the next few months.
I was lucky enough to see this trailer in 3D this week, and it looks great. Prometheus is a prequel to Alien, directed by Ridley Scott. Scott’s last few films have not been overly memorable, so perhaps returning to one of his most successful films is a good thing. Prometheus stars Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace, and is out on 1st June 2012.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and produced by Tim Burton, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a rather interesting prospect. Pitting the infamous US president as a Van Helsing-type vampire hunter sounds like a great idea for an action thriller. The film stars Dominic Cooper, Benjamin Walker, and Anthony Mackie, who does not get enough decent roles. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is out 3rd August 2012.
The Lucky One
From the first few moments of the trailer, it becomes immediately apparent that The Lucky One is based on a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It just has that look. Zac Efron stars as a US marine who tries to track down a woman who’s photograph he credits with keeping him alive. The Lucky One is out on 2nd May 2012.
Casa di mi Padre
Will Ferrell Armando Alvarez in the Spanish-language Casa di mi Padre. According to the trailer, the comedy is from the same team behind Anchorman, which bodes well. The film looks to be a satire of Spanish-language soap operas; the trailer certainly plays on this. Casa di mi Padre is due for release in June 2012.